Mixed Martial Arts is not as new a sport as some might think, it has actually been around for over a hundred years but in a somewhat different form. One of the foundations of the sport, Greco-Roman and catch wrestling was popular with Europeans in the latter part of the 1880s. In the early part of the twentieth century MMA contests were regularly taking place in Japan and throughout Europe.
The original and old school matches were put on to draw interest. There were some unique match-ups with fighters of distinctly different styles and disciplines being pitted against each other. Some matches were between jujitsu specialists and boxers. Japanese sports enthusiasts enjoyed this type of fighting and called it merikan, or American fights. There were rules and points to be made to win by decision. These popular Japanese matches took place at the turn of the last century.
In 1993 an organized event known as the “Ultimate Fighting Championship” took place in the United States. The rules controlling the actual bouts were lax – almost to the point where there weren’t any. This situation could not continue and rules governing MMA events were introduced to protect the fighters taking part and also to make the sport more acceptable to the general public. Betting on events obviously took place although sportsbook betting, as we know it today was not evident at that time.
There was a wide range of techniques and styles that each of the competitors used to thwart an opponent to bring him to the floor in defeat. Besides the recognized wrestling moves, martial arts elements were commonly used. The art of Bartitsu, for example, was developed in England in 1899 and was a combination of fighting styles seen in Asia and Europe.
Bruce Lee was the most influential fighter and was largely responsible for the increasing popularity of MMA when he introduced his own style of fighting Jeet Kune Do. He explained that to be the best, one needed to use a mixture of karate, judo, and boxing. Jeet Kune Do is the study of fighting of 3 ranges. Kicking range, punching range, and wrestling range. Thus the styles were combined and MMA became strongly established in the late 1960s.